The Morning Fix: Gervais back. Rosenblum wins! Google's new song
After the coffee. Before digging out my bulletproof vest.
The Skinny: I have a long day on the road, so stay off those cellphones and stop texting while I'm trying to get around you on Wilshire! In the headlines, Ricky Gervais will get another crack at insulting Hollywood as host of the Golden Globes, Google is going after iTunes and Warner Bros. TV big shot Bruce Rosenblum is now chairman of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.
Google's new tune. Search engine giant Google officially launched its assault on Apple's iTunes with the debut of its Google Music service. The digital music store was unveiled in Los Angeles yesterday after a year-long push to sign up the major labels. On board are Universal Music, EMI, Sony Music and Merlin Network. However, the white whale for Google remains Warner Music Group, which has a catalog that represents some 20% of the world's music library. The two are haggling over price. A look at Google's push and what it means for iTunes and other competitors from the Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal.
Meet the new boss. Warner Bros. TV Group President Bruce Rosenblum was elected chairman of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences on Wednesday night. Rosenblum, one of the most powerful executives in the television business, beat the lesser-known Nancy Bradley Wiard, a producer who also had served as the academy's vice chairman. The biggest headache for Rosenblum is this new job will be overseeing the annual prime-time Emmy Awards. There has been tensions between broadcast networks and pay cable channels over what categories get recognized during the show. More on the election from Variety.
How did he know? Sony Pictures has ended its association with acclaimed director and producer James L. Brooks ("Broadcast News," "Terms of Endearment"), whose Gracie Films has been based at the studio for two decades. The move comes after last year's flop "How Do You Know" starring Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd and Owen Wilson. Brooks' deal at Sony actually ended in September, but word is only creeping out now. Details from the Hollywood Reporter.
On a roll. At the start of the new TV season, not much attention was paid to ABC. The network had a weird strategy of staggering the launch of its new programs throughout the fall and there was little buzz around any of its comedies or dramas. But ABC quietly has found some momentum. While "Charlie's Angels" flopped and "Pan Am" is struggling to maintain a safe altitude, new comedy "Suburgatory" is showing strength and dramas "Revenge" and "Once Upon a Time" are delivering bigger numbers than expected. A look at ABC's fall results from TV Guide.
Capital Starz. John Malone's Liberty Media is known for complex transactions and financial structures, often aimed at limiting tax liabilities. On Thursday, Liberty announced it was doing away with its tracking stock for its Starz pay TV company and will convert each share of Liberty Starz common stock into 0.88129 shares of Liberty Capital, which is parent of the Atlanta Braves and holds investments in SiriusXM, Live Nation and Barnes & Noble, and minority equity investments in Viacom and Time Warner. This should for now end speculation that Liberty was thinking of selling Starz. Details from Forbes.
Ahoy matey. The House Judiciary Committee debated a new bill to fight piracy that has big support from Hollywood and is opposed by much of Silicon Valley, including Google. However, lawmakers seemed to be on Hollywood's side. National Journal quotes Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet Subcommittee ranking member Rep. Marvin Watt (D-N.C.) as saying “the obstinate opposition since the day [the bill was introduced] is really about the bottom line.”
Growing Gersh. The Gersh Agency has snagged Roy Ashton from Creative Artists Agency and made him a partner and head of its Television Literature Department, according to Deadline Hollywood reporter Nellie Andreeva. Gersh, "which is very strong in TV on the talent side, has now made beefing up its TV lit roster a priority," wrote Andreeva.
-- Joe Flint
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Photo: Ricky Gervais in New York in 2010. Credit: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times.